The Grubbie Tuesday “How Not To” Series- Puttu!

Morning, Afternoon, Evening!

Get ready for a quick post with crappy pictures, folks.

‘Twas a busy, busy morn. We woke up late, Lil’ Z woke up early, there was a rat scare, the grated coconut was frozen solid, the internet was shifty, the baby was sleepy, traffic snarls, news from home- all in all, it was pandemonium in here.

I always have great plans for my “Grubbie Tuesday” posts, but they never quite make it. I always end up hurrying, taking substandard pictures on my phone/ iPad and then hastily putting the post up while the Lil’ Ms Z takes a cat nap. I shall try to do better next time folks. I shall honestly try!


Breakfast dish of steamed cylinders of ground rice layered with coconut or also known as rice and coconut funnel cake.


It is the poster- child of the “Mallu” breakfast line-up. Right next to Appam and stew.

My Mum is a bit of a puttu cognoscente. An acclaimed expert in the art of puttu making. She starts from scratch. Washing and partially drying the rice, then grinding/ powdering it just enough. The mixing in warm, salted water comes next; then the steaming. Even with the multiple steps involved, she gets it right every single time. It is always soft, almost crumbly, super- absorbent, perfectly cooked.

I seemed to have not inherited the “puttu- gene”. Or maybe it is yet to be activated.

I have never gone through the trouble of washing/ drying/ powdering rice. I use store bought “puttu- podi/ powder”. Even then, it took a while to make edible, decent puttu. Trouble is that Mr  H likes his to be slightly lumpy while I like mine to be fine. We tried the middle path- it was always either too lumpy for me or too powdery for Mr H. So now I make it in two batches. Live and let live I say.

Mr H makes it well too. In fact, he was the one who initially taught me some tips and tricks. I have now surpassed him, I’d like to believe!

Let us get on with the program, shall we?

1. DO not mess with the water level. Water- level is key, yet again. Like in several of my earlier posts on this series, here too one must know exactly how much water to pour into the puttu vessel. Too much and you’ll have a water- steam spitting puttu- maker dragon and too little will lead to a charred bottom and some uncooked rice cake. Fill the pot to a little less than half. That seems to work. Even today, I was dim-witted enough to let a dry and empty pot keep burning away on the stove.

The puttu contraption…


2. DO not add too much or too little water while mixing the rice- flour. This takes practice. It is a very fine line between a perfectly cooked puttu and a badly cooked one. Too little water and you have a dry, over-crumbly, hard mess and too much …well…it might even lead to an explosion (an over- watered mix will not let the steam rise through the vertical component and stuck- steam is never a happy- chappy). Beware!

3. Do not “pack” the vertical funnel- pot too compactly. You want the steam to permeate all the way through and come out through the holes at the top. It is also a health and safety hazard.

4. DO not let is cook for too long. Once the steam gets going, the puttu cooks in less than ten minutes. A few minutes longer if the flour is made of brown rice.

5. DO not keep refilling and placing the top- vertical portion without checking the water level in the bottom portion. Distaster calls. Daft Dr J did that today!

Start with this...
Start with this…
Till you obtain this...
Till you obtain this…
Layer with this
Layer with this
Looking down the barrel!      fill into this...
Looking down the barrel! fill into this…
Top off like so..
Top off like so..
Lumpy batch for the Mister!
Lumpy batch for the Mister!
The fine version being enjoyed by the Mrs- with some good ol’ Kadala (chick- pea) Curry. Mr Muster is obvious by absence- Note to self- Buy Mr Mustard…

I am a tad scatter brained today, hence I’m sure to have missed several Don’ts. Will update. Or the lovely reader can… Any puttu connoisseurs here?

Random puttu facts:-

  • My paternal grandmum’s onion and cumin spiced puttu is my gold standard. The Rolls- Royce Phantom Coupe of the Puttu world.
  • I like my Puttu with loads of coconut. It is a personal preference.
  • Puttu can also be made with brown-rice (I have even seen/ eaten “wheat- puttu”!)

    The brown-rice puttu
    The brown-rice puttu
  • Traditionally it is eaten with chick-pea curry or green- grams. But it can also be had with banana and sugar, ghee (clarified butter) and sugar, rasam (south- Indian tamarind based soup) and meat curries.
  • Before all the steel/ aluminium puttu making thingamajiggys came into being, our grand mums made them in bamboo shoots over a wood- fire.
    New- age, olden-style puttu- maker!
    New- age, olden-style puttu- maker!



  • It can also be cooked over a pressure cooker.


Till next time…

Dr J.


6 thoughts on “The Grubbie Tuesday “How Not To” Series- Puttu!

Add yours

  1. Haha!! Glad to know a tummy with similar demands..!! Beef is never good here as we get back home right??? I crave them the most!!

  2. Nice post!! Well .. wheat puttu do exist and Wheat puttu podi is readily available in leading brands like nirapara.. Tastes good as well 🙂

    Carnivore in me loves my puttu with beef and Meen Mulakittath ( For dinner).. Apart from the usual combinations, Veg stew also makes a good match!! And the leftover puttu is mixed with some sauteed onion-scrambled egg mix and packed for lunch!

    1. Aaah! You shouldn’t have said all those things…

      I’m soooo hungry right now… There is leftover Puttu…but my tummy growls…” Spicy beef currrrrrrrry”….

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